The Money Pit

We looked at an amazing house over the weekend, a gigantic old Dutch Colonial on 16 acres just 10 minutes from Downtown Albany. It was spectacular with its soaring ceilings, humongous rooms, and wraparound porch overlooking a vast lawn. All this for about the same price that I could sell my current house. It was a little intoxicating.

Our realtor friend, a smart guy who knows construction, was more realistic. “I’d hate to see you buy this place.”

The truth is it was a mess that would have taken years to fix —but only if you had a rather large pile of cash.

I remember our first house. We hooked up with a realtor who was brand new. She was nice enough, but completely clueless. Almost as clueless as the guy she recommended to do our structural, someone who pointed out the vintage light fixtures and period woodwork but missed the lousy roof and ruined heating system.

The realtor went on to sell a lot of houses and be president of the chamber of commerce —and we struggled for years to get out from under a house we should never have bought. We were young and stupid and in love. What can I say?

My point is this: be careful when you buy a house and only work with people you know and trust. Real estate agents are like surgeons. They have to learn, but you’d rather they do it on somebody else.

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